Annenberg Seminar in History 2019-2020

Seminars will be held on the dates listed below on Tuesdays at 4:30PM in College Hall 209 unless otherwise noted. Papers will be posted via PennKey access below and available to download at this webpage approximately one week prior to the presentation.

Please direct any questions about the series to Professor Amy Offner:


Spring 2020


Tuesday, February 4

CHELSEA D. CHAMBERLAIN, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History

 “Institutionalization, Family, and the Meaning of Childhood at the Pennsylvania Training School for Feeble-Minded Children, 1900-1910” (see the paper here).

Chelsea D. Chamberlain is a PhD candidate in history at the University of Pennsylvania. Her dissertation explores the rise of diagnostic clinics in the early twentieth-century United States that sorted America's children into the normal, the curably abnormal, and the incurably defective. It investigates how clinicians and everyday people negotiated the hierarchies of moral, physical, and intellectual capability that determined individuals' rights, responsibilities, and access to an unsupervised life.


KELSEY NORRIS, PhD. Candidate, Department of History

“To Find a Person, or To Find Oneself: Tracing and Family Reunification in Brezhnev’s Soviet Union” (see the paper here)

Kelsey L. Norris is a PhD candidate in history at the University of Pennsylvania. Her dissertation, The Ties that Bind: World War II-Era Population Displacement and the Politics of Family Reunification in the USSR, 1941-1975, investigates the durability of Soviet kinship ties in the context of total war. It shows that the Soviet Union prioritized returning displaced citizens to Soviet society, rather than to their biological families, and championed a new conception of the Soviet family as tied by a shared Soviet identity, rather than by blood.


Tuesday, February 25

SEBASTIÁN GIL-RIAÑO, Assistant Professor, History & Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania

The Remnants of Race: Anti-Racist Science and Economic Development in the Global South

Please access the paper here.

Sebastián Gíl-Riaño is Assistant Professor of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. His book in progress, The Remnants of Race: Anti-Racist Science and Economic Development in the Global South offers a multi-sited and multi-lingual narrative of how scientists from Latin America, Australasia, Europe and North America dismantled biological conceptions of "race," and in the process paved the way for an intensification of modernization projects in the Global South during the Cold War.


CANCELLED -Tuesday, March 17

LAUREN BENTON, Nelson O. Tyrone Professor of History and Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University

“Empire as Domus: Households and Legalities of Small Wars”

Lauren Benton is a leading comparative and world historian whose research focuses on law in European empires, the history of international law, and Atlantic world history. Benton is the author of four books, including Law and Colonial Cultures: Legal Regimes in World History, 1400-1900 (Cambridge University Press, 2001), which was awarded the J. Willard Hurst Prize and the World History Association Book Prize; A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European Empires, 1400-1900 (Cambridge University Press, 2010); and Rage for Order: The British Empire and the Origins of International Law, 1800-1850 (Harvard University Press, 2016), coauthored with Lisa Ford. Benton is president-elect of the American Society for Legal History and the recipient of the 2019 Toynbee Prize for significant contributions to global history.


CANCELLED - Tuesday, April 7


 A conversation with:

CARLO GINZBURG, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa

ROGER CHARTIER, Annenberg Visiting Professor of History and Professor at the Collège de France

Please note there is no pre-circulated paper for this seminar.

Carlo Ginzburg is a noted historian of early modern Europe whose books have made pioneering contributions to the fields of microhistory, art history, literary studies, and the theory of historiography in the Italian Renaissance and early modern European history. His books include The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller (1976); The Enigma of Piero della Francesca (1985); Clues, Myths and Historical Methods (1989); History: Rhetoric and Proof (1999); No Island is an Island: Four Glances at English Literature in a World Perspective (2000); Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches' Sabbath (1991);The Judge and the Historian: Marginal Notes on a Late-Twentieth-Century Miscarriage of Justice (1999); and Threads and Traces: True, False, Fictive (2012). Born in Turn, Ginzburg is professor emeritus at UCLA and the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa.


Roger Chartier is a Professeur in the Collège de France and Annenberg Visiting Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania.  He frequently lectures and teaches in the United States, Spain, México, Brazil and Argentina.  His work in Early Modern European History was rooted in the tradition of the "Annales School" and mainly dedicated to the history of education, the history of the book and the history of reading. Recently, he has focused on the relationship between written culture as a whole and literature (particularly theatrical plays) for France, England and Spain. His work in this specific field (based on the criss-crossing between literary criticism, bibliography, and sociocultural history) is not disconnected from broader historiographical and methodological interests which deal with the relation between history and other disciplines: philosophy, sociology, anthropology.


POSTPONED--Faculty Book Celebration

Celebrating Kathy Peiss, Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of History, author of Information Hunters: When Librarians, Soldiers, and Spies Banded Together in World War II Europe (Oxford University Press), and in conversation with Peter Holquist, Ronald S. Lauder Endowned Term Associate Professor of History and celebrating Alex Chase-Levenson, Assistant Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania, author of The Yellow Flag: Quarantine and the British Mediterranean World, 1760-1860 by in conversation with David S. Barnes, Associate Professor, History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania.


Kathy Peiss is the Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of American History at Penn, where she teaches courses on modern American cultural history and the history of American sexuality, women, and gender.  Her research has examined the history of working women; working-class and interracial sexuality; leisure, style, and popular culture; the beauty industry in the U.S. and abroad; and libraries, information, and American cultural policy during World War II.  She is particularly interested in the ways that culture shapes the everyday lives and popular beliefs of Americans across time.  Peiss is the author of Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York (1986); Hope in a Jar: The Making of America's Beauty Culture (1998); and Zoot Suit: The Enigmatic Career of an Extreme Style (2011), as well as numerous edited volumes and journal articles.


Alex Chase-Levenson is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, where his research and teaching focus on modern Britain and modern Europe.  His published work has addressed trade, travel, and disease in the nineteenth-century Mediterranean, Victorian spectacle, and perceptions of ancient time in nineteenth-century Britain and France.  Chase-Levenson received his PhD in history from Princeton University (2015), and has been the recipient of an IHR-Mellon fellowship and a Henry Fellowship to undertake research and study in the UK.


Peter Holquist's teaching and research focus upon the history of Russia and modern Europe. He is the author of Making War, Forging Revolution: Russia's Continuum of Crisis, 1914-1921 (Harvard, 2002) and the founder and editor of the journal Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History.  His current project, By Right of War, explores the emergence of the international law of war in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Specifically, it analyzes the role of imperial Russia in codifying and extending these "laws and customs of war," and examines to what extent European militaries, and particularly the Russian army, observed these norms in practice. 


David S. Barnes is Associate Professor in the Department of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania.  A specialist in the history of medicine and public health, he is the author of The Great Stink of Paris and the Nineteenth-Century Struggle against Filth and Germs (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006) and The Making of a Social Disease: Tuberculosis in Nineteenth-Century France (University of California Press, 1995).  He is currently writing a history of the Lazaretto quarantine station (1801-1895) on the Delaware River outside Philadelphia—the oldest surviving quarantine station in the Western Hemisphere.


Annenberg Seminar in History Archive